Looking for a reprieve from baseball season, where the Brewers run for contention is progressing like an extended treadmill session, and not yet making it to NFL training camp time, my son and I took a field trip today to the Scion Dental Summer Pro-Am basketball league held at Mequon Homestead High School in Mequon. It turned out to be great entertainment and the price (free) fit my budget nicely.

The summer league, sanctioned by the NCAA and modeled after similar summer leagues in Minneapolis (Howard Pulley Pro-Am) and Detroit, is made up of a diverse mixture of college and professional basketball players spending their summers in the Milwaukee area. Jim Ganzer, the developer of the event, created eight teams (as balanced as possible) from the entrants and worked to divide up players from the same schools. While Marquette, UW-M, and UW-GB have large contingents of players participating, players from over 35 colleges and universities and nearly 20 professional teams (mostly from Europe) are listed on the rosters. NBA players do not participate unless they are currently under contract with a team, and with Wes Matthews recently signing with the Portland Trail Blazers we were fortunate enough to be able to watch him play on Saturday.

Following is a link to the league’s website: http://www.milwaukeeproam.com/

The highlight of the morning involved watching a team led by Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan defeat Wes Matthews’ team 114-113 in overtime. While summer basketball tends to lack any defensive intensity, over the final five minutes of regulation and overtime both teams really played hard. Cadougan, who had his freshman season shortened by an Achilles tendon injury that occurred prior to the season starting, was simply outstanding and will be a huge contributor for MU this season.

The event, from my perspective, is an absolute hit and I suspect it will grow in size and popularity over the next few years. Being able to sit a row or two from high profile players, listen to their interactions, and observe their games in an unstructured setting was a real treat. The players were very willing to interact with those watching, signing autographs and chatting with fans.

Some other observations from the summer league:

  • Unfortunately, the only University of Wisconsin player on a roster was Morris Cain. I have heard some mention that perhaps Bo Ryan was having his players boycott the event, but a far more likely reason for the lack of Badger players is the lack of Badger hoopsters from the Milwaukee area. Hopefully in the future there will be a larger Badger presence.
  • I don’t know much about UW-GB’s Jarvis Williams, but during the time I watched him he displayed some serious athleticism and quickness. Looks like a player to me.
  • Vander Blue has grown since high school. Standing next to Marquette’s 6’7” Joe Fulce, Blue looks to be a legitimate 6’5”. Blue played very well…his rebounding needs work but his ability to create (and finish)his own shot is impressive.
  • I enjoyed watching and becoming familiar with Marquette’s other incoming freshmen, Davante Gardner, Reggie Smith, and Jamail Jones, as they played against older competition. All three look like solid players. Smith, in particular, is really, really quick.
  • The players displayed some excellent good-natured trash talking, keeping it clean while effectively razzing their intended targets. Marquette’s Jimmy Butler, who did not play but helped coach his squad, had lots to say to everyone.
  • Jamil Wilson, who recently transferred to Marquette from Oregon, also did not play but did attend and helped coach his team. Wilson will be eligible to play for the Golden Eagles in 2011-12.
 

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  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    “…over the final five minutes of regulation and overtime both teams really played hard.”

    So it was like an NBA game.